Chapter Six

It was a week later when the three person review panel got to Mary's incident. The reviewers consisted of Mary's boss, Assistant Director Harkins; Agency Director Munro; and Jones, another Assistant Director.

Director Munro said, "Mary, this is preliminary. We are reviewing what has happened in this incident. There are some oddities about this. It's not quite... routine... as I'm sure you're aware. Depending on what we conclude this incident can disappear into archive oblivion, even with its oddities, or it can become the beginning of a more formal review process. Do you understand?"

"Yes." she spoke quietly.

"Mr. Harkins, I believe you wished to open this inquiry."

Harkins huffed, then began, "Ms. Cullihain. You initiated this dry run! ...Which is within your authority when higher authorities are not available. But then you escorted the android on the mission. Unheard of! What did you have in mind, some kind of wild weekend with your personal James Bond?"

Mary cringed under all this bluster. She had a defense worked out long before she started this escapade, but her heart wasn't into it now, she was still heartbroken.

"You and that android spent roughly a million of agency resource on fancy clothes, fast transportation and putting on a show at that casino. And, according to the recordings, about fifteen percent of mission time was spent... under cover, shall I put it?"

She cringed again.

"Ms. Cullihain, you have gamed the system. What happens if even one in ten of the female workers in this agency decide they want their wild weekend? There will be chaos! I see no choice but censure... severe censure." and he huffed his finish. Clearly he felt deeply embarrassed that this had happened on his watch.

As he talked Jones looked more and more annoyed. Munro called on him next, "Mr. Jones?"

Why Jones was getting annoyed became clear, "Harkins, covert activity is not always a by-the-recipe activity. Our enemies are tricky folk. They are constantly looking for ways to 'game the system' as you call it. Our people need to be heads-up. They need to be ready to climb outside the box and kick ass as needed.

"I'm looking at this and I see a 5/5 mission! A well conducted, heads-up mission that came upon the operatives as a complete surprise. What's to complain about?"

Harkins looked bug-eyed at Jones, Jones looked back defiantly. Mary's thought was, "I think the Chou brothers rivalry just got surpassed. Oh my! And this happened on my watch!"

After a moment of thinking, Munro concluded the review, "Gentlemen, and Ms. Cullihain: The way I see it, we can either condemn or commend. And I think for agency morale, and standing with ERU in general, a commendation will end this situation much better. I recommend we give Ms. Cullihain a 5/5 commendation. I also recommend that you, Mr. Harkins, prepare a report on procedures we can implement to keep "wild weekends" from becoming some kind of agency routine.

"Meeting adjourned."


Ellen met with Mary outside the meeting room, heard the verdict, and they headed off for lunch. As soon as they were out of earshot she said, "Yahoo girly! You showed 'um!"

Mary smiled faintly and nodded, Ellen was expecting a high five.

"What's the matter, sweety?"

Mary stopped and looked at her. "I loved him, Ellen, I fell deeply in love. I... I... wasn't expecting that." Ellen put her arm around Mary and they continued their walk.

"Life is full of surprises."

"It was truly a wild, wild weekend. It was everything I planned for... how could my feelings about it go so wrong? I had my wild weekend with James Bond. But, where do I go from here? I'm feeling like there's no tomorrow for me. Gag! I sure don't want a sequel!"

Ellen turned Mary to face her, "Why not, sugar? You've had the perfect romance, just not an endless romance." She gave Mary an encouraging hug.

"You're not doing Tom justice with all this moping around. Do you think he'd like to see you this way? He wanted to make you happy, sugar, he wanted to inspire you! -- not turn you into some kind of mopey Bella who can't do a thing without her man by her!"

Mary thought about this, then gave Ellen a hug back, and smiled weakly, "You're right. You're being a true girlfriend, Ellen."

"Damn straight! And I'm going to give you one more piece of advice: Capitalize on this! You've proven a super way to use super androids. Here's what I suggest: You get in touch with those nerdy engineer types at Chou Special Security."

Mary looked shocked at this.

"Not the evil leaders! The 'I'm doing my job' worker-bee types they hired. That ring is broken now, they'll be looking for work. ...What better than developing wild weekend androids?

"After all, sweety, the clones made in Macau stay in Macau."

Mary laughed at that, and the girls now headed for lunch with some new big dreams in mind.

--The End--